Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Middle Infield

Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater & now being taken at pick 11 on average. Is that too steep?
Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater

In the midst of thinking that middle infield would be a tough position to forecast in 2014, three middle infielders made the top 20 on ESPN’s Player Rater. However, it did not include top-twelve selections Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. This seems to be carrying over to early ADP’s as people are reacting to the strong performances by Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon who finished 1st and 17th respectively last season. Early on, each player is being taken in the top 15 in NFBC money drafts. The third player to finish in this company was Dee Gordon, who is not enjoying the early love as his other brethren due to questions of regression. But is Gordon really that much more of a question mark than the other two? That remains to be seen. At first glance, second base seems much deeper than in the past.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits in 2014 bear watching. Home SLG - .748, Road - .447 along with averaging just over 100 Games the past five seasons.
Tulo is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits from 2014 bear watching

As for shortstop, rankings always begin with Troy Tulowitzki. This is not a knock on Tulo (or maybe it is), but he has averaged just 105.8 games played over the last five seasons. If you select him with eyes wide open, that is fine, but even with less than 100 games in 2014, Tulowitzki still finished 8th on the Player Rater at his position. It seems like Hanley Ramirez falls under the same category, but he will be learning a new position in Boston. HanRam has averaged 121 games over the last five years, but should see a bump in production playing in Boston if he can handle playing the outfield. Add in Jose Reyes and you have an instance in which three of the top four ranked shortstops are a risk for injury. While everyone is an injury risk, the checkered health of this talented trio makes it difficult to draft them since it comes at a cost that is rarely returned. Dee Gordon finished 2014 as the top fantasy shortstop but will not retain eligibility this year. Let’s transition to the average draft positions at second base for 2015 in NFBC money drafts:

2B ADP's

I was a proponent of Jose Altuve last year and enjoyed the returns of owning him in my home AL-only league. While I think he can repeat some of his numbers, it stands to reason that he will regress a little in 2015. Batting average is the hardest statistic to predict so when it is one of the main reasons driving a player’s value, that makes taking him in the first round risky. With the dearth of power in the league, I find it hard to justify taking a base-stealing second baseman in the top 10. I also loved Anthony Rendon as my editor will be happy to tell you (Editor’s note: It’s true, he did). But with Rendon being taken at pick number 14 that again neutralizes his value. I think he is very talented and capable of repeating his numbers in 2015 but his home run tracker lists 12 of his 21 home runs last year as “just enough”. What if half of those do not go over the wall this year? That drops him home runs from 21 to 15 which is worth making note of. Meanwhile, Seattle signed Nelson Cruz for Robinson Cano. This is very important since Cano has had little protection since moving to the Mariners. I think he is due for a big bounce back season and with his ADP slipping into the twenties, now is the time to pounce. Two other players I like this year are Jason Kipnis and Kolten Wong at their present draft spots. Kipnis’ power numbers are limited by an inability to hit fly balls, but all he needs is health to rebound. Wong had a strong finish to 2014 and looks to build upon that this year. Like the blind profile with projections, here are some interesting ones courtesy of Steamer:

Player A: 72 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 20 SB, .254/.331/.387
Player B: 56 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 19 SB, .245/.295/.392

It is easy to see that player B has a noticeable drop in runs scored and just 9 points in batting average, but he is going to be an interesting player to watch develop. While I prefer player A in drafts, if he is taken ahead of where I want him, player B is an intriguing fallback option. Here is one more comparison:

Player C: 59 R, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 9 SB, .279/.316/.398
Player D: 71 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 8 SB, .262/.349/.400
Player E: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .241/.319/.395

While two of the players above are now teammates, it will be interesting to see how their at bats work out. The third player in the comparison really came on in 2014 and looks to build upon that this year in anonymity since he is not going in the top 200 thus far. Here are the their identities:

Player A: Jason Kipnis
Player B: Arismendy Alcantara
Player C: Scooter Gennett
Player D: Ben Zobrist
Player E: Marcus Semien

Projections do not tell the whole story but when the names are taken out of the process, it allows us to look at them objectively. Other players of note are Chase Utley, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin and Rougned Odor. Second base is not a fantasy gold mine, but it is definitely as deep as it has been in recent memory. Here are the steamer projections of the players taken in the top 200:

2B Steamer Projection Chart

Due to the ADP’s in clear tiers, drafting shortstop will depend on an owner’s preference. Those who want a premium player at a volatile position will be taking Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez or Ian Desmond in the top 30. After that though it is sort of spread out. Only two shortstops are being taken between picks 50-100 but then five go off the board between picks 105 – 138. Almost a whole round lapses then four more shortstops are being selected between picks 150-180 in the NFBC top 200. Here are the players with their ADP’s included:

SS NFBC ADP's

As much as shortstop will be in transition, especially with the move of Hanley Ramirez to the outfield in Boston, there is hope. Continuing the blind profile exercise, here are some interesting ones I found using the Steamer projections:

Player A: 63 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 8 SB, .274/.320/.409
Player B: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 8 SB, .251/.316/.397
Player C: 63 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB, .252/.314/.395

Only one of the above players is being taken inside of the NFBC’s top 200 in money drafts. Showing that while there is depth at shortstop, it seems as though there are many at the same statistical level. Continuing on that theme, here are three more in the same exact circumstance:

Player D: 50 R, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB, .255/.296/.401
Player E: 64 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 2 SB, .253/.298/.392
Player F: 59 R, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 3 SB, .256/.323/.402

There aren’t many discernible differences in either group. Player A does have a big advantage in batting average which enhances his value but that is also the one statistic with the largest variance. In the second group any one of the three players listed could out-produce the other with a bump in one category. Curious?

Player A: Starlin Castro
Player B: Asdrubel Cabrera
Player C: Brad Miller
Player D: Wilmer Flores
Player E: J.J. Hardy
Player F: Jhonny Peralta

Only Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta are being drafted inside the top 200 but I think those picks are better spent on pitchers or players with more upside than guys like Peralta. There are plenty of similar options available. Before I forget, here are the Steamer projections for the shortstops inside the top 200:

SS Steamer Projection Chart

Intriguing undrafted shortstops include Erick Aybar, Chris Owings and Alcides Escobar. I can see a bounce back by Jean Segura who endured a very tough season not only in his adjustments, but personally as well. Danny Santana is due to regress but how much? If he can steal 20 bases and score 80 runs then he still has value. Yes his average will drop to the .270 range but it depends on need. Javier Baez will be a very tough player to own since he will be streaky and may not break out until the second half. I think he is talented but to reach for him at pick 106 would be unwise. There are options if you do your research, just do not wait too long or you will find yourself with Jed Lowrie.

Middle infield will have depth and some value to share this year. I think you can be successful without reaching or paying for career years. It will take patience but early knowledge of how players are being valued helps determine where to get them. Tomorrow I will take a look at the outfield.

If you think there is variance in the middle infield, just wait.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.go.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ONnSIi (Altuve), http://goo.gl/6cSfy1 (Tulowitzki)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank SS

Pirates are surging and Mercer hits LHP to the tune of 319/359/458 and would like your attention
The Pirates are surging and Mercer hits LHP to the tune of .319/.359/.458

Shortstop is one of the toughest positions to fill not only in fantasy baseball, but in daily as well. With the top rated fantasy player at the position who cannot stay on the field, it makes the selection process much tougher. When Troy Tulowitzki is on the field, he is the top fantasy shortstop, period. However. that makes him the highest priced player at his position in daily and hard to roster. When he is on the disabled list, like now, it makes shortstop one of the hardest places to find production in fantasy. This exercise will help gamers navigate the rough waters as the last two months of the season are upon us. First, here are the categories in which I will explore:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

There will be some interesting mid-range and cheaper players who will emerge to target. Using the splits view, here are the shortstops that excel against southpaws.

SS versus Left-Handed Pitching (minimum 70 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .555
2. Hanley Ramirez .402
3. Brandon Crawford .387
4. Jhonny Peralta .372
5. Elvis Andrus .364
6. Jordy Mercer .355
7. Ian Desmond .353
8. Yunel Escobar .351
9. Starlin Castro .345
10. Alcides Escobar .340
11. Xander Bogaerts .329
12. Ruben Tejada .325
13. Jose Reyes .325

ISO:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .436
2. Hanley Ramirez .265
3. Jhonny Peralta .235
4. Ian Desmond .198
5. Brandon Crawford .194
6. Eduardo Escobar .161
7. Asdrubal Cabrera .153
8. Alcides Escobar .144
9. Jordy Mercer .139
10. Xander Bogaerts .132
11. Jose Reyes .130
12. Jed Lowrie .120

OPS:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 1.348
2. Hanley Ramirez .924
3. Brandon Crawford .897
4. Jhonny Peralta .861
5. Elvis Andrus .821
6. Jordy Mercer .817
7. Ian Desmond .806
8. Yunel Escobar .796
9. Starlin Castro .794
10. Alcides Escobar .774
11. Xander Bogaerts .738
12. Eduardo Escobar .737

AB/HR:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 8.7
2. Hanley Ramirez 17
3. Ian Desmond 25.3
4. Jhonny Peralta 27
5. Brandon Crawford 34.3
6. Jordy Mercer 36
7. Xander Bogaerts 38
8. Brad Miller 40.5
9. Eduardo Escobar 43.5
10. Alexei Ramirez 50
11. Jimmy Rollins 51.5
12. Derek Jeter 58

wRC+:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 250
2. Hanley Ramirez 164
3. Brandon Crawford 156
4. Jhonny Peralta 141
5. Jordy Mercer 129
6. Yunel Escobar 129
7. Ian Desmond 126
8. Elvis Andrus 126
9. Starlin Castro 117
10. Alcides Escobar 115
11. Ruben Tejada 110
12. Xander Bogaerts 105

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above (2014 Stats vs LHP):
1. Troy Tulowitzki – 78 AB, 20 R, 9 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 397/515/833
2. Hanley Ramirez – 68 AB, 12 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 279/380/544
3. Jhonny Peralta – 81 AB, 12 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 247/380/481
4. Brandon Crawford – 103 AB, 12 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, 311/392/505
5. Ian Desmond – 101 AB, 13 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, 277/330/475
6. Jordy Mercer – 72 AB, 9 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 319/359/458
7. Elvis Andrus – 102 AB, 13 R, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 333/389/431
8. Yunel Escobar – 67 AB, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 313/378/418
9. Alcides Escobar – 90 AB, 8 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB, 300/330/444
10. Xander Bogaerts – 114 AB, 19 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 263/344/395
11. Starlin Castro – 88 AB, 11 R, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 307/374/420
12. Eduardo Escobar – 87 AB, 13 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 276/300/437

As I stated earlier, it is a distinct tier at the top with Tulowitzki one and Hanley Ramirez two. After that there is a smattering of players. Of note, Brandon Crawford has been excellent against lefties, like Brian McCann for the catchers. Jhonny Peralta and Ian Desmond provide pop but they are boom or bust. Lately, a hot option has been Jordy Mercer and he has been hitting second against lefties and makes a cheap target. I also like Xander Bogaerts against left-handed pitching and used him tonight against Mark Buehrle. His swing is dialing back in and when he is listed cheaply, is a great play in this split. Now a look at the shortstops who match up well with right-handed arms:

SS versus Right Handed Pitching (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .404
2. Didi Gregorius .362
3. Hanley Ramirez .358
4. Danny Santana .344
5. Josh Rutledge .336
6. Jimmy Rollins .333
7. Erick Aybar .329
8. Jhonny Peralta .328
9. Jose Reyes .326
10. Marwin Gonzalez .322
11. Starlin Castro .321
12. Alexei Ramirez .319

ISO:
1. Didi Gregorius .213
2. Troy Tulowitzki .207
3. Stephen Drew .192
4. Jhonny Peralta .176
5. Ian Desmond .176
6. Jimmy Rollins .174
7. Chris Owings .162
8. Starlin Castro .161
9. Hanley Ramirez .161
10. Brandon Crawford .150
11. Marwin Gonzalez .146
12. Josh Rutledge .146

OPS:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .930
2. Didi Gregorius .842
3. Hanley Ramirez .807
4. Danny Santana .788
5. Josh Rutledge .761
6. Jimmy Rollins .751
7. Erick Aybar .749
8. Jhonny Peralta .744
9. Jose Reyes .736
10. Starlin Castro .731
11. Marwin Gonzalez .726
12. Alexei Ramirez .722

AB/HR:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 19.8
2. Ian Desmond 22.8
3. Stephen Drew 24.8
4. Jimmy Rollins 24.9
5. Jhonny Peralta 25.3
6. Marwin Gonzalez 28.8
7. Didi Gregorius 29.7
8. Starlin Castro 29.9
9. Brad Miller 35
10. Hanley Ramirez 35.6
11. Asdrubal Cabrera 35.7
12. Alexei Ramirez 39

wRC+:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 145
2. Hanley Ramirez 133
3. Didi Gregorius 128
4. Danny Santana 119
5. Erick Aybar 114
6. Jimmy Rollins 112
7. Jhonny Peralta 110
8. Marwin Gonzalez 104
9. Jose Reyes 103
10. Starlin Castro 101
11. Asdrubal Cabrera 99
12. Josh Rutledge 98

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above (with 2014 vs RHP):
1. Troy Tulowitzki – 237 AB, 51 R, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 321/402/521
2. Didi Gregorius – 89 AB, 15 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 2 SB, 270/359/483
3. Hanley Ramirez – 249 AB, 36 R, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 11 SB, 277/369/438
4. Jimmy Rollins – 299 AB, 37 R, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 16 SB, 247/329/421
5. Jhonny Peralta – 278 AB, 25 R, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 255/313/432
6. Danny Santana – 126 AB, 17 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 3 SB, 317/336/452
7. Erick Aybar – 276 AB, 35 R, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 10 SB, 290/329/420
8. Stephen Drew – 99 AB, 7 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 202/275/394
9. Josh Rutledge – 103 AB, 15 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 282/333/427
10. Jose Reyes – 276 AB, 47 R, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 13 SB, 279/323/413
11. Ian Desmond – 296 AB, 28 R, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 8 SB, 240/292/416
12. Marwin Gonzalez – 144 AB, 16 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 264/316/410

Gregorius has been glorious against right handed pitching slashing 270/359/483 in the desert
Gregorius has been Greg-lorious against right handed pitching slashing .270/.359/.483 in the desert

Doing these articles has really helped me to identify some players who were not on my daily fantasy radar. Case in point is Didi Gregorius, who is quietly emerging in the dumpster fire that is the Diamondbacks. While Chris Owings got the fantasy love early in the year Gregorius is coming into his own and makes a great cheap option going forward against right-handed pitchers. I never would have thought that Erick Aybar had more RBI versus righties than Tulowitzki but it is right above. Two other sneaky plays are Danny Santana who was red hot before his injury but seems to be making adjustments and Josh Rutledge who will never replace Tulowitzki, but for daily and yearly leagues is filling in admirably. It isn’t always about having the most talent at a position, but the right matchup. That is why the splits are so important to monitor during the season.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/7eJjbO (Mercer), http://goo.gl/kPOSgL (Gregorius)

Post Break Preview: Shortstop

Best in fantasy at SS over the last year, feeling lucky this second half?
“Tulo” has been the best SS in the game over the past year. Feeling lucky, punk?

The shortstop position had shown distinct tiers for drafters in the preseason. Playing the injury prediction game with friends Troy Tulowitzki, HanRam and Jose Reyes was the. So investing in one of these players came with a caveat. For those who had faith in Tulowitzki, you have been rewarded. Jose Reyes has spent time on the disabled list already and Hanley Ramirez seems to have a different ailment each week, or is it daily lately? There have been some surprises at the position, as Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins and Starlin Castro who have provided great value in the first half. Disappointments that come to mind are Brad Miller, Jean Segura (though his regression is not a surprise) and J.J. Hardy. Where are the homers? Anyway, the season’s 2nd half may show that further shakeups are in order. Here are the top 20 Shortstops according to ESPN’s player rater along with their last 365 day stats as of the All-Star Break:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – 152 G, 102 R, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 2 SB 320/411/549
2. Alexei Ramirez – 164 G, 78 R, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 26 SB 284/318/406
3. Hanley Ramirez – 132 G, 81 R, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 18 SB 289/369/513
4. Jimmy Rollins – 158 G, 76 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 32 SB 243/347/349
5. Erick Aybar – 161 G, 84 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 19 SB 270/309/397
6. Jose Reyes – 146 G, 93 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 25 SB 279/337/412
7. Alcides Escobar – 164 G, 61 R, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 32 SB 256/285/336
8. Ian Desmond – 157 G, 71 R, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB 259/312/412
9. Starlin Castro – 165 G, 58 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 5 SB 265/312/399
10. Elvis Andrus – 160 G, 92 R, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 43 SB 282/334/361
11. Asdrubal Cabrera – 156 G, 76 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 11 SB 245/302/391
12. Jhonny Peralta – 113 G, 48 R, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB 265/332/473
13. Jean Segura – 63 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 30 SB 236/267/322
14. Chris Owings* – 92 G, 31 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB 280/323/444
15. Andrelton Simmons – 159 G, 61 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 4 SB 261/312/411
16. Derek Jeter – 99 G, 38 R, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB 259/277/359
17. Brandon Crawford – 153 G, 51 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB 226/302/372
18. Jonathan Villar* – 129 G, 53 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 32 SB 221/287/331
19. Danny Santana – 40 G, 20 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB 313/348/429
20. J.J. Hardy – 151 G, 61 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB 280/315/393
*Chris Owings is on the the DL and Jonathan Villar is in the minors

I find it amazing how much J.J. Hardy’s value is impacted without the long balls. It may be a trend based on his past statistical year, Hardy is a hot streak away from increased value so the second half will tell us if this is who he really is. It’s safe to say that the league has caught up with Jean Segura, but that was to be expected, but he maintains value with his speed and sets himself up as a fantasy bargain next year. If the Brewers are going to stay in contention, they need him to step up. As much as I see people bash Andrelton Simmons, his stats over the past calender year are not all that different than Starlin Castro’s. Here are their ZiPS projections with leaders in each fantasy category:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

Runs:
1. Elvis Andrus 33
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Brad Miller 31
4. Jose Reyes 30
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 30
6. Erick Aybar 30
7. Ian Desmond 29
8. Starlin Castro 29
9. Jimmy Rollins 29
10. Hanley Ramirez 28

Home Runs:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 11
2. Ian Desmond 9
3. Hanley Ramirez 8
4. J.J. Hardy 7
5. Jhonny Peralta 6
6. Xander Bogaerts 6
7. Starlin Castro 6
8. Asdrubal Cabrera 6
9. Jimmy Rollins 6
10. Brad Miller 5

RBI:
1. Ian Desmond 34
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Hanley Ramirez 28
4. Starlin Castro 28
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 28
6. Jhonny Peralta 26
7. J.J. Hardy 25
8. Erick Aybar 25
9. Alexei Ramirez 23
10. Brad Miller 23

Stolen Bases:
1. Elvis Andrus 13
2. Jean Segura 12
3. Jose Reyes 11
4. Alcides Escobar 11
5. Jimmy Rollins 9
6. Ian Desmond 8
7. Alexei Ramirez 8
8. Hanley Ramirez 7
9. Erick Aybar 7
10. Danny Santana 7

Batting Average:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .311
2. Jose Reyes .283
3. Starlin Castro .278
4. Erick Aybar .278
5. Hanley Ramirez .275
6. Josh Rutledge .274
7. Alexei Ramirez .272
8. Elvis Andrus .271
9. J.J. Hardy .269
10. Jean Segura .269

Some players that have upside, albeit with some risk are Brad Miller, Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana. The ZiPS projections seem to favor Miller but if he continues to bat at the bottom of Seattle’s order it will be hard to get to the runs and RBI predicted above, but he is worth a flier in the second half. I find it hard to believe that Xander Bogaerts will not rebound and even if the Red Sox become sellers, this is an offense that can provide runs. Danny Santana made his debut and took on the look of Jean Segura from a year ago with his fantasy splash. However, he has struggled since his return and learning to hit the ball to the opposite field will be a key in his development, but if he hits leadoff for the Twins he can still provide value moving forward. As of today, Tulowitzki and Ramirez are on the mend so their rankings going forward are tenuous and dependent upon health, but isn’t that always the case?

Desmond's power/speed combo makes him a second half stud
Desmond’s power/speed combo makes him a second half stud

My Second Half Ranks:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – He is the gold standard at SS, injuries are always the key
2. Ian Desmond – There are flashier, and higher batting averages, but his steadiness is the key (21 HR, 21 SB) in his last statistical year.
3. Hanley Ramirez – Maybe the most frustrating player to own in fantasy (or is it his teammate Puig?). Always is nicked up, leaving early and now hit on the wrist with a pitch. May be a good time to sell if you can
4. Jose Reyes – As stated above, if healthy he is an elite shortstop, a pennant push will keep him motivated to stay on the field
5. Starlin Castro – What a difference a year makes, hitting behind Anthony Rizzo and an evolving Cubs lineup makes him worth speculating on
6. Alexei Ramirez – Similar to Desmond, he is under-appreciated in fantasy but he fills the stat columns. Can be streaky but he is emerging from a slump and may finish strong
7. Erick Aybar – His value fluctuates but the Angels offense is potent and Aybar is in the middle of it. He’s also a sneaky source of RBI (70 over the last year)
8. Elvis Andrus – Elvis relies on his speed  for fantasy value. While the Rangers are struggling, this offense has to improve in the second half, right?
9. Jimmy Rollins – I had him too low entering the season as he and Chase Utley continue to put up stats. A trade to a contender may be just the right juice to squeeze out another fantasy-driven second half
10. Alcides Escobar – Has quietly been emerging this year and is only 27 years old
11. Jhonny Peralta – If the Cardinals are going to win the NL Central again this year he will need to provide more pop in the second half. With Allen Craig struggling, he is moving up in the order
12. Jean Segura – The loss of his child has to be a distraction but there is still time to turn around his season
13. J.J. Hardy – He could vault up this list with more power, this second half will tell us more about his fantasy value in the future
14. Brad Miller – I still believe. ZiPS agrees, hope we are correct
15. Jordy Mercer – Jordy goes virtually unnoticed but has been a key part of their success following the promotion of Gregory Polanco. Over his last 28 days he is hitting .325 with 12 RBI and a stolen base
16. Asdrubal Cabrera – I feel like I am always downgrading him but he left last night’s game with back spasms. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and Francisco Lindor was promoted to AAA. None are good signs to me
17. Jed Lowrie – What a difference a year makes. He has hit 12 home runs over the last 365 days but only 4 in the first half this year. The A’s could use a rebound from him
18. Xander Bogaerts – The potential is there, a nice second half would alleviate some of the worries about next year. May have been a year early on “X”
19. Stephen Drew – I do love him and he is probably safer than Bogaerts moving forward but I think the Red Sox wasted money on him (Editor’s note: Yes, yes they did)
20. Derek Jeter – Not really a fantasy factor anymore but I just wanted to recognize him as a team player who always hustled (on and off the field. Have you seen the women he has been with?), and a player baseball will miss. #RE2PECT

A couple of players who just missed include the Diamondbacks duo of Chris Owings (presently on the DL) and Didi Gregorious. Either may be a good trade chip in the off-season and both are improving this year. Danny Santana is another wild card but his minor league track record suggests his hot streak is going to be hard to maintain. If the Twins leave him at lead-off he will be a cheap source for runs and stolen bases. Shortstop is a position in transition with some big minor league talent on the way. It will be interesting to see how soon some of them will make their debuts.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on the Twitter machine @gjewett9!

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/0NrPDC (Tulo), http://goo.gl/r1w7A4 (Desmond)

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/15

Who is excited baseball is back????? I know I am which also means that Daily Fantasy Baseball is back as well. I really enjoy DFS Baseball as it keeps you even more involved and keeps you up to date with guys you normally wouldn’t care about.

Lineup yesterday was mediocre. I had another lineup loaded with Ervin Santana who came through again for me. I love that guy.  

Well everything I am going to bring you my lineup in which I am playing over at FanDuel.com – Which if you haven’t joined just click this link here: http://partners.fanduel.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_3360b_2

I am going to bring you the lineup I feel is the best for you to bring home some $$$ for the day. Early on we are fighting the guessing game but riding some of the guys hot bats to start the season.

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/15

This is the lineup I am throwing down right now. Check back throughout the days as I will edit or add more lineups
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Here are a few reasons I am digging this lineup.

Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chicago Cubs – I just love this matchup for Tanaka today and as it sits now I will be rolling this out in all matchups today.

Edwin Encarnacion vs. Phil Hughes – hitting .353 (12/34) with 4 2Bs, a Hr, 5 RBIs & 4 BBs
The bat for EE hasn’t been great this year but he does have 5 hits in his last 3 games as well as a very favorable matchup today. Also right handed hitters are hitting .412 against Hughes this season. Get him in the lineup for sure today.

Neil Walker vs. Mike Leake – hitting .321 (9/28) with 4 2Bs, a HR, 11 RBIs & 6 BBs

Don’t forget to tune into the Fantasy Forecaster each and every Wednesday at 9 PM EST here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/foryourconsideration or download the show on iTunes by clicking the link here. https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-sports-script/id850876078?mt=2

5 Questions Surrounding Fantasy Baseball ShortStops

The MLB season is upon us which means it is time for the Fantasy Baseball season. We here at the Sports Script want to do everything possible in setting you up for draft day and helping you throughout the season to win a Fantasy Baseball Championship. We are gathering a team of Sports Script writers as well as some special guest to answer 5 key questions about each position for the upcoming 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season. Today we have gathered me (Ricky Valero), Matt Bell and Matt Wincherauk as we are going to take a look at the ShortStop.

5 Questions surrounding Fantasy SS

1 – Which player or players are you targeting?

Matt Bell – This is the one position I seem to struggle at yearly to pin point players. I think you obviously target Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, but of course they are both injury risks to waste a high pick on. They have a ton of reward if they don’t get hurt for you as both guys are élite players. I wouldn’t mind passing on these guys if you don’t get some value on them and taking a guy like Ian Desmond. He’s hit around .280 for his career and is a threat for 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases just like he did in 2013 again in 2014.

Matt Wincherauk – I’ve always been a huge fan of Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s probably the most sure things when it comes to a short stop. He’s the guy that I’ll be targeting come draft time.

Ricky – Jed Lowrie is someone I really want on all of my teams. In his 1st full season as a Big leaguer, Lowrie impressed hitting .290 with 15 HRs and 75 RBIs. He is currently ranked in the mid-teens on most draft boards and I see him sneaking among the top 8 fantasy SS this season.

2 – Which player are you staying away from?

Matt Bell – This is tough as I don’t see one guy that I would just hate to have on my team in the top of most rankings, so I’m going with Derek Jeter here. The guy is awesome and a hall of fame shortstop, but he’s not someone I want in his final year on my fantasy team. I think some fantasy players this year with go with the sentimental pick and take him this year and I’m not one of those people. Derek Jeter I wish you all the best, but I want to win my fantasy championship!

Matt Wincherauk – I am definitely staying away from Derek Jeter this year, despite him being a sentimental favorite. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy of late, and the production just isn’t there anymore. Some people will take him out of emotion.

Ricky – Jean Segura – His pre and post All-Star stats are a big concern. As you will see below.

Pre All-Star – .325 BA – 54 R – 121 H – 11 HR – 36 RBI – 27 SB
Post All-Star – .241 BA – 20 R – 52 H – 1 HR – 13 RBI – 17 SB

Such a big difference between the two half has put a ton of question surrounding his status for the 2014 season. With really not knowing which Segura I am going to get and him having such a high price in fantasy leagues, I don’t think I will be drafting him this season.

3 – Who is the biggest sleeper heading into 2014?

Matt Bell – The Sleeper at SS that I was going to go with was going to be Starlin Castro as I figure he will have some value this year after a terrible 2013 for his standards, but I decided that seemed to obvious. I’m going to go with a name that not many will be familiar with and that guy is Jonathan Villar. He’s going to be the starting short stop for the Houston Astros and should be batting leadoff. He hit for around .240 last year in 52 games, but was still able to steal 18 bases in that short time. He’s very fast and can be a threat for stolen bases as well as extra base hits.

Matt Wincherauk – My biggest sleeper is one of the best young prospects in baseball, its Xander Bogaerts. He really impressed everyone during the Red Sox run to a World Series Championship, and now he’s looking to blow up in his first full year.

Ricky – Everth Cabrera – Cabrera has yet to play a full season and boy if/when he does he is going to be good. He has huge upside with .280 average, 50+ SBs and 80-85 runs scored as the leadoff man for the Padres.

4 – Which player will be a bust for Fantasy owners?

Matt Bell – The biggest disappointment this year will be those people who wait and grab Jimmy Rollins in the later rounds thinking they’ve got a steal, but in reality they’ve got a 35-year-old shortstop. Rollins is going to be decent, but I don’t think he can be considered a top short stop option anymore and should just be passed on for some of the younger guys below him.

Matt Wincherauk – Jose Reyes is my pick for bust, mostly because the guy can never stay healthy. His first year was a bit of a disappointment, and don’t see things getting better in Toronto.

Ricky – Starlin Castro – One of my favorite guys heading into last season. He was a true bust and really killed all my fantasy teams. A ton of talk surrounding him being a potential “sleeper” this season and bouncing back from the miserable year he had. I just don’t see it happening, he had a low in hits, runs, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, OBP, SLG and saw a career high in strikeouts. The patients at the plate is concerning and all the “sleeper” talk will make his stock higher than it deserves to be. Stay far away from him this season if you can.

5 – Give a bold prediction for one player.

Matt Bell – The bold prediction for short stop is that we see a breakout season for Castro after his worst year. He will finish in the top 5 of all shortstop and be named to the all-star team for the Cubs.

Matt Wincherauk – Despite the hype around Jean Segura and Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki will be the best shortstop in fantasy baseball. Another 30+ home run, and .300+ average for the best in baseball.

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez will be a top 5 Fantasy Shortstop in 2014. The power loss is a concern but a guy with back to back 20+ stolen bases, scores and has a solid average. Ramirez will step it up this season and Fantasy owners will sit back and enjoy.

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster @mattbell211 & @TheMattyWin and we will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

MLB season is upon us and Fantasy Baseball is back and better than ever! Over the next few weeks we are planning on getting you ready for any of the upcoming Fantasy drafts that you have. This week we are sending out our initial 2014 rankings that will be updated as Spring Training progresses. The week after we are going to answer 5 questions about each position as well as giving you some insight into some players that we like as well. Matt Bell is joining me today as we rank ShortStop as well as take a look at one guy we like higher than his ADP and one we have lower than his ADP.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings (as of 02/21/14)

Rank Ricky Valero Matt Bell  
1 Hanley Ramirez Troy Tulowitzki
2 Troy Tulowitzki Hanley Ramirez
3 Ian Desmond Ian Desmond
4 Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
5 Jean Segura Elvis Andrus
6 Elvis Andrus Starlin Castro
7 Starlin Castro Jean Segura
8 Everth Cabrera Everth Cabrera
9 Alexei Ramirez JJ Hardy  
10 Ben Zobrist Alexei Ramirez
11 JJ Hardy Ben Zobrist
12 Jed Lowrie Jonathan Villar
13 Jhonny Peralta Brad Miller
14 Asdrubal Cabrera Jhonny Peralta
15 Andrelton Simmons Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Xander Bogaerts Jed Lowrie
17 Jimmy Rollins Jurickson Profar
18 Erick Aybar Andreltton   Simmons
19 Jonathan Viller Jimmy Rollins
20 Bradley Miller Xander Bogaerts
21 Jurickson Profar Erick Aybar
22 Derek Jeter Alcides Escobar
23 Alcides Escobar Zack Cozard
24 Zack Cozart Derek Jeter
25 Stephen Drew Stephen Drew

Why I ranked (blank) higher than his Current ADP (ADP average comes from the rankings at Fantasypros.com)

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez – Current ADP 14th – I have him ranked 9th – Ramirez RBIs dropped last season in a weak White Sox lineup but saw his batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases increase. Abreu added to this lineup will help Ramirez see some better pitches as well. A solid average, gets on base and steals as well, he will help you all the way around.

Matt Bell – Jonathan Villar is my sleeper in all fantasy leagues this year as I really like what this guy can do. He’s got an ADP of 19th, but is all the way up to the 12th spot in my rankings. He has the potential to steal 35 or more bases this year as he snagged 18 in only 58 games last year. If you miss out on Tulo or Hanley in the 1st few rounds you can always let the SS spot fall to the late rounds and grab Villar who can help in the stolen base category quite a bit.

Why I ranked (blank) lower than his current ADP.

Ricky – Asdrubal Cabrera – Current ADP 11th – I have him ranked 14th – Cabrera is on the downside of his career and honestly don’t believe he is worth a slot on the roster. In 2014, he might only be a one maybe two category guy which is just not good enough for fantasy owners.

Matt Bell – Jean Segura is a little lower in my rankings than most as he’s got an ADP of 4, but in my rankings you will find him down at 7th. I think he’s a going to be a good shortstop, but we’ve only seen him play one full season so far. I want to see more from this young shortstop, before I can rank him ahead of a few guys. I’m also putting him behind Castro who I’m fully expecting to have a bounce back year and I think has a chance to equal his stats with a few more home runs.

In case you missed these, here are my Catcher Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BY), 1st baseman (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BZ), 2nd baseman rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C2) and 3rd Baseman Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C7).

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster and I will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link